bramayugam (film, 2024) ↑

bramayugam (film, 2024)

Bramayugam is a film that burrows deep under your skin, lingering long after the final frame. Writer-director Rahul Sadasivan has crafted a haunting masterpiece that reveres Kerala's rich folklore while delivering an exquisitely crafted horror thrill ride.

The brave decision to shoot entirely in black-and-white is immediately apparent, imbuing every scene with a sinister, timeless quality. The monochrome palette strips away distractions, allowing the eerie production design and Mammootty's phenomenal performance to take center stage. From the crumbling, overgrown mansion that serves as the primary setting to the intricate period costumes and makeup, the film is a masterwork of atmosphere.

The movie transports viewers to 17th-century Kerala when superstition and black magic still held sway over the populace. The story follows Thevan (Arjun Ashokan), a runaway singer who stumbles upon the dilapidated mansion of the ruthless, power-hungry landlord Kodumon Potti after a terrifying encounter with a Yakshi (a malevolent female creature from mythology). What appears to be a sanctuary quickly becomes a prison as Potti ensnares Thevan in his sinister web.

Mammootty is simply transcendent as the villainous Potti. From the deranged cackle to the unsettling stares, his physicality makes the hair stand on end. As he rises from a seemingly empty chair like an ancient demonic force, Potti's introduction is pure cinematic genius. Mammootty seamlessly oscillates between humor and menace, keeping viewers consistently off-balance. His masterful line delivery, especially when reciting pertinent folklore and mythology, instills a primal fear.

The supporting cast rises to the occasion as well. Arjun Ashokan imbues Thevan with the perfect mix of naivete and growing resolve. Siddharth Bharathan is unnerving yet sympathetic as Potti's obedient servant, trapped in the vicious cycle. Their evolving dynamics with the tyrannical Potti provide the emotional crux around which the supernatural horror elements revolve.

On a technical level, Bramayugam is a marvel. Shehnad Jalal's cinematography is breathtaking, brilliantly utilizing the play of light and shadow to maximize the chilling ambiance. The practical effects and makeup are impeccably realized, be it the grotesque demonic figures or Potti's decaying appearance. There are numerous sequences and visuals that will be forever etched into my memory - the climactic tunnel scene is a fever dream of terror. The VFX work seamlessly blends with the live-action footage, immersing you in the nightmarish events.

Christo Xavier's haunting score is equally crucial, as it deftly incorporates traditional folk elements. The music elevates every tense sequence, from Potti's grand introductory theme to the frenetic climactic confrontation. The sound design is also brilliant, with every creak, footstep, and unsettling ambient noise amplifying the dread. Hearing Potti's raspy voice boom through the auditorium's speakers was a deeply unsettling experience.

What makes Bramayugam a true genre masterwork is how its psychological horror grounds the fantastical elements. On one level, it's a riveting supernatural tale mining Kerala's rich mythology. But it's also a searing exploration of power, corruption, and the cyclical nature of exploitation. Potti is the embodiment of systemic oppression, lording over everyone with an iron fist and a twisted value system. His vile actions cast a light on how the downtrodden have been historically dehumanized and subjugated. Thevan's arc becomes a metaphor for the persevering human spirit striving to break free from the shackles of tyranny.

Rahul Sadasivan's meditative pacing allows these thematic threads time to gestate and burn slowly into the psyche. The film gradually builds a sense of inescapable doom, each revelation more unnerving than the last. I was gripped, simultaneously wanting to avert my eyes, yet unable to look away. Bramayugam demands your full attention, gradually drawing you into its unholy depths until you're completely subsumed by its nightmare realm.

Ultimately, Bramayugam is a masterful exercise in rectifying horror. Refreshingly bucking mainstream trends, it doesn't rely on cheap jump scares or excessive gore.

It gets a solid 5/5 from me.